Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart are one of the defining duos of musical theater, contributing dozens of classic songs to the Great American Songbook and working together on over 40 shows before Hart's death. With hit after hit on both Broadway and the West End, they produced many of the celebrated songs of the '20s and '30s-such as Manhattan, The Lady is a Tramp, and Bewitched -that remain popular favorites with great cultural resonance today. Yet the early years of these iconic collaborators have remained largely unexamined. We'll Have Manhattan: The Early Work of Rodgers & Hart provides unprecedented insight into the first, formative period of Rodgers and Hart's collaboration. Author Dominic Symonds examines the pair and their work from their first meeting in 1919 to their brief flirtation with Hollywood in the early 1930s as they left the theater to explore sound film. During this time, their output was prodigious, progressive, and experimental. They developed their characteristic style and a new approach to musical theater writing that provided the groundwork for the development of the Broadway musical. Symonds also analyzes the theme of identity that runs throughout Rodgers and Hart's work, how the business side of the theater affected their artistic output, and their continued experimentation with a song's dramatic role within a narrative. We'll Have Manhattan goes beyond a biographical or historical look at Rodgers and Hart's early years-it's also an accessible but authoritative study of their material. Symonds documents their early shows and provides deft critical and analytical commentary on their evolving practice and its influence on the subsequent development of the American musical. Fans of musical theater and devotees of Rodgers and Hart will find this definitive exploration of their early works to be an essential addition to their Broadway library.
Dominic Symonds is Reader in Drama at the University of Lincoln and founding editor of the journal Studies in Musical Theatre. He is also a director and writer for musical theatre.